Viruses 2017 10 199(10) pii 10.3390/v9100303
The T helper 17 (Th17) cells represent a subset of CD4+ T-cells with unique effector functions, developmental plasticity, and stem-cell features. Th17 cells bridge innate and adaptive immunity against fungal and bacterial infections at skin and mucosal barrier surfaces. Although Th17 cells have been extensively studied in the context of autoimmunity, their role in various other pathologies is underexplored and remains an area of open investigation. This review summarizes the history of Th17 cell discovery and the current knowledge relative to the beneficial role of Th17 cells in maintaining mucosal immunity homeostasis. We further discuss the concept of Th17 pathogenicity in the context of autoimmunity, cancer, and HIV infection, and we review the most recent discoveries on molecular mechanisms regulating HIV replication/persistence in pathogenic Th17 cells. Finally, we stress the need for novel fundamental research discovery-based Th17-specific therapeutic interventions to treat pathogenic conditions associated with Th17 abnormalities, including HIV infection.